No comments as Browns, Capobiancos leave OK Supreme Court

OKLAHOMA CITY (WCIV/AP) - Parties left without making a comment Tuesday at the Oklahoma Supreme Court with state troopers standing by in a years long custody battle for a 3-year-old Cherokee girl.

A state Supreme Court referee is expected to recommend which court should take the custody case between Dusten Brown and Matt and Melanie Capobianco next: South Carolina's, Oklahoma's or the Cherokee Nation's.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court last week granted an emergency stay to keep a nearly 4-year-old Cherokee girl with her biological father. The stay turns back an immediate transfer order issued last week.

Supreme Court docket listings show that the stay was granted Friday in the case of Veronica. Since offices reopened after the holiday weekend, the court's website shows a flurry of activity in the case, including a filing by the Capobiancos to have the stay vacated and an amicus curiae brief in support of the Capobiancos.

"South Carolina has a compelling interest in ensuring that the final orders of its courts are accorded in full faith and credit in Oklahoma, as required by the United States Constitution and other applicable law," Haley's brief reads. "South Carolina also has a compelling interest in ensuring the prompt return of a South Carolina child to her adoptive parents and ensuring that Mr. Brown is held accountable for criminally withholding Veronica Rose Capobianco from her parents for nearly one month."

Her biological father, Dusten Brown, has been fighting with a James Island couple, Matt and Melanie Capobianco, since Veronica was an infant.

Reports from Tulsa indicate that there was a brief hearing Tuesday morning in Nowata County, but the case will go before the state's Supreme Court Tuesday afternoon. The Tulsa World reports that hearing will be held Tuesday afternoon.

On Friday, a Nowata County judge ruled that Veronica should be handed over to the Capobiancos immediately. Brown filed a write of prohibition with the Oklahoma Supreme Court a short time later to stop that order.

SPECIAL SECTION: Baby Girl v. Adoptive Couple

Now the state's high court has issued an emergency stay. It is believed that Veronica is being held on tribal lands, which puts her outside the reach of Oklahoma law.

A gag order that has both sides remaining quiet and keeping court records sealed has made details of the most recent developments in the years long custody battle hard to come by.

The Capobiancos arrived in Tulsa nearly three weeks ago, promising to take Veronica out of Brown's home and back to the Lowcountry.

The fighter for custody of Veronica began shortly after her birth in 2009, when the Capobiancos worked out a private adoption with Brown's ex-fiancee, Christinna Maldonado.

Brown has argued that he was tricked into giving away his parental rights, but a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling decided that due to the Indian Child Welfare Act, Veronica belonged with Brown and the Cherokee Nation.

In December 2011, Brown took custody of then-2-year-old Veronica.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled over the summer that South Carolina's high court incorrectly applied ICWA to the case and ordered it to reconsider the case without taking into account the federal law.

The South Carolina Supreme Court sided with the Capobiancos and sent the case back to Charleston family court with the recommendation to finalize the adoption. That's when a transition plan was put in place.

However, the first meeting of the transition never happened because Veronica and Brown never appeared. {}As a result, Brown was charged with custodial interference by Charleston County deputies and a warrant was put out for his arrest.

He was expected to turn himself in to authorities in either his home county or the county in which the Cherokee Nation seat of power sits, but he opted for a third county and was quickly processed and released on bond.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley issued a governor's warrant for Brown and sent it to Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin's office, who said she would wait until Brown's Sept. 12 court hearing before deciding to turn him over to Charleston deputies.

However, she strongly urged Brown to enter mediation with the Capobiancos and let them reconnect with their adopted daughter or face being extradited before next week's hearing.

So far, there has been one known meeting between the Capobiancos and Veronica. The girl at the center of a custody battle that spans two states and three jurisdictions turns 4 years old in less than two weeks.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off